by Ivan LOVRENOVIC
The court was thus able to hear the tape of a telephone conversation between Karadzic and Gojko Djogo, then president of the League of Bosnian Serbs in Serbia, in which the former informed the latter: "They should know that twenty thousand armed Serbs have encircled Sarajevo. Sarajevo will become a great furnace that will consume three hundred thousand Muslims. I shall be telling them openly that there are three to four hundred thousand armed Serbs in Bosnia-Hercegovina, in addition to the Army and its machinery. They do not realize that there will be rivers of blood and that the Muslim nation will disappear." The date is important here: the conversation between the two "poets" and "humanists" took place on October 12, 1991, i.e. five months before the referendum and the Sarajevo barricades.
The tragedy of modern Bosnia-Hercegovina, tinged with a strong dose of farce, symbolically and indeed clinically revealed each and every First of March, is that the state which it celebrates does not in fact exist. None of the ethnic subjects in whose name the state was made - who bled and died under its flag, for the sake of which neighbors belonging to the "wrong" faith and nationality were tortured, murdered and otherwise destroyed - have it in fact. Paradoxically the Serbs have it least, despite having "their own" Republic of Srpska. Every Serb who thinks of himself as a "true Serb" in the Ekmecic sense must know, or at least feel deep down, that this "republic" is a historical joke and a swindle so far as the state-making dream is concerned: the dream of all Serbs living in one state. It is possible, of course, to admit that this aim is utopian and that some Serbs may have to be left on the other side of the imagined border; but how is one to swallow the betrayal of Cvijic's supreme national credo according to which Bosnia-Hercegovina (naturally all of it) is "the essence and the heart" of the Serb state and nation!
The Croats do not have their state in Bosnia-Hercegovina either. They voted "yes" in the referendum, but split soon after into "unifiers" led by Tudjman, Susak and Boban - who railed against Bosnia-Hercegovina as a "colonial creation" and a "prison of nations", which should be destroyed in favor of an eternal and somewhat enlarged Croatia - and a smaller bloc who remained faithful to their original choice. During the war and especially in the post-Dayton period both sides emerged as losers. The former because political opportunism (in which they excelled!) forced them to pretend that they accepted Bosnia-Hercegovina, which was not true; and the latter because they lost everything and gained nothing. Alija Izetbegovic was the first to scorn them, after having exploited their fortitude and energy, just as he scorned the Serbs who remained loyal to Bosnia-Hercegovina.
The Bosniak Muslims, who alone adore the First of March state and speak of it as being independent, sovereign, indivisible, internationally recognized and so on and so forth, have nothing of it either. We are speaking of those Bosniaks to whom Alija Izetbegovic has bequeathed a dim state-building metaphysics encapsulated in these words: the Bosnian idea! The sense of it is that, while things are not ideal and much uncertainty remains, the main aim has been achieved: "we have saved the Bosnian idea". Even if it were possible to envisage that in this world of political realities and contingencies there may exist a kind of Platonic "refrigerator of ideas", the real question which none of them is ready to confront in all its implications is what really remains of Bosnia, what part of it has in fact been saved. The truth is that nothing has been saved; that Bosnia is internally - structurally and mentally - ethnically and religiously divided; and that this has come about precisely thanks to the united efforts of all the three ethnic political movements and their leaders. They are not equally guilty for the aggression against Bosnia-Hercegovina, for the war crimes and the destruction - that is a hard historical fact and the scale of guilt and responsibility has long been established. But so far as the final outcome is concerned they share responsibility. However, it must be said that in all this the Bosniak Muslims represent the most tragic case in this story, since they have failed to discover a politically effective exit from the vicious triangle: the urgent need to complete the process of national formation; the zealous return to Islam as (also) a political identity; and the existential need for the state's consolidation (which cannot be achieved, however, without unreserved respect for others and jettisoning of the quest for "majority rights").
If, however, there is one group, layer, "nation" that has good reason for celebrating the First of March, for whom the day is indeed significant, then we can easily tell who they are. They are the small yet diabolically powerful new class made up of professional politicians, war profiteers dressed up as businessmen, and one can serenely add some officials of the international administration - all of whom live in great comfort off the non-existence of the rule of law and true state of Bosnia-Hercegovina and are doing their best to make this condition permanent.